Barcelona stumble against Rayo; Atleti put pressure on Real Madrid
Sports Desk, Apr 26 (EFE).- Barcelona lost 2-1 Wednesday to Rayo Vallecano, but remain 11 points clear of defending champions Real Madrid atop LaLiga, while third-place Atletico Madrid beat Mallorca to creep closer to their cross-town rivals.
While largely conceding possession, hosts Rayo were more dangerous than Barcelona going forward and surged ahead in the 19th minute with a goal by Alvaro Garcia Rivera.
Robert Lewandowski forced a stop from Rayo goalkeeper Stole Dimitrievski and went on to put the ball in the net in the 42nd minute, but the goal was disallowed for a marginal offside.
Dimitrievski tipped a strike from Jules Kounde over the cross-bar at the end of the first half to preserve the narrow lead, which grew to 2-0 in the 53rd minute thanks to Fran Garcia, who benefited from a botched clearance by Frenkie de Jong.
The Rayo keeper thwarted Gavi just past the hour mark and the home side preserved the clean sheet until the 83rd minute, when Lewandowski halved the deficit for the visitors.
Dimitrievski did well to stop the Pole from equalizing two minutes later and Raphinha sent the ball into the side netting in the 90th minute on the Blaugrana’s final chance of the night.
The win lifted Rayo into ninth place with 43 points.
Earlier Wednesday in the capital, Atletico overcame a 1-0 deficit to hammer Mallorca 3-1 and improve to 63 points, just 2 points behind Real Madrid.
Matija Nastasic’s header off a corner gave the visitors the advantage in the 21st minute.
The Colchoneros were poised to draw level when the referee pointed to the spot in the 40th minute for a foul on Nahuel Molina in the box, but the penalty was withdrawn after a VAR review.
Mallorca’s reprieve lasted only until the second minute of first-half stoppage time, when Rodrigo de Paul scored, and Atleti vaulted ahead early in the second half on Alvaro Morata’s goal.
Yannick Carrasco made it 3-1 in the 77th minute with an assist from Antoine Griezmann.